CPAP sanitizers and cleaners are some of the heavily advertised gadgets today. But marketing and advertising efforts aside, is there any scientific proof to indicate that you need a cleaner? Does using a sanitizer like Lumin or SoClean reduces your risks of contracting an infection when attempting to overcome sleep apnea using CPAP therapy?
Below is a closer look at the possible risks, purposes of using a CPAP cleaner, and its potential benefits.
Maintaining the CPAP Equipment
Sleep physicians, suppliers, and manufacturers all insist on proper maintenance and adherence to CPAP cleaning procedures. CPAP equipment should be cleaned on a frequent basis.
The water chamber, tubing, and mask will require daily cleaning. If this is not possible, for one reason or another, ensure that they are cleaned at least once every seven days. Cleaning will require the use of hot water and liquid dish soap.
Apart from cleaning, the filter on the device will require bi-monthly or monthly replacement. To reduce your risk of getting infected, consider using distilled water in the water chamber.
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But despite this being the recommended cleaning practice, not all users are open to living up to this ideal. In reality, there are patients who never take the time to disinfect their equipment. Overlooking this crucial step often leads to the development of serious problems down the line.
Problems that are likely to arise include:
- Your equipment is likely to start appearing unhygienic
- Minerals could soon start to accumulate inside the water chamber
- Unpleasant odors may start to form
- Your mask may start collecting mucus
- The moist environments may create a good breeding ground for mold
- Germs may start collecting inside the tubing
Unclean equipment also poses various risks as it provides you with direct exposure to molds, viruses, and bacteria. Exposure often raises the possibility of getting sinus infections, nasty colds, and in extreme cases, pneumonia.
But then again, are these infections common among people using CPAP equipment? Is it true that CPAP can, in fact, make a user sick?
What Does Scientific Research Say?
CPAP has been existence for more than three decades. For thirty years, millions of people around the world have been using this therapy on a nightly basis. Looking at these statistics, the risk of getting an infection from using unclean CPAP equipment appears to be quite marginal.
Despite having been around for this long, there are very few scientific studies that have focused on the relationship between the two. But based on the few studies available, notable findings include:
- A 2001 study indicated that there was an increase in the number of upper respiratory infections reported by the users. However, this study was seen to have a weakness in that patients were required to remember past infections, making it retrospective. Another weakness was in that only 17percent of the study participants used heated humidifiers which are today an essential standard of care. Frequent cleaning was, however, seen to be an efficient way of reducing one’s infection risks.
- A second study conducted in 2012 found that CPAP treatment helped to reduce mucus production and decrease nose inflammation. The results of the study indicated that it had the potential to reduce congestion as well as reduce a person’s chances of getting infected.
- A third study was conducted in 2017 which featured a total of 137 patients. The researchers conducting the study did not find any differences between people using CPAP and non-users in relation to pneumonia and upper respiratory infections. The use of a humidifier, choice of mask, and use of CPAP did not seem to have any impact on the risk of developing an infection.
CPAP Cleaning and Sanitizing Options
Many health experts recommend using hot water and liquid dish soap to clean the CPAP equipment. A user can also opt to use diluted vinegar and water instead of using soap.
The two cleaning techniques have helped to reduce the breakout of widespread respiratory infections among CPAP users for the last three decades. However, some companies have in the past few years taken to exploiting the fear of CPAP users, which has led to the development of a niche market for sanitizers and cleaners.
The following are the costs, benefits, and risks that come with using some of these gadgets:
SoClean and SoClean 2
Annual replacement parts: 30 dollars’ cartridge
- Based on tests carried out in a controlled lab setting, the gadget is said to kill 99.9 percent of germs and bacteria found in water reservoirs, tubing, and CPAP masks.
- It is able to kill the bacteria by delivered ozone hooked onto a sealed container into the internal chambers of the CPAP device via the tube and mask.
- Ozone has a residue small that may be risky and unpleasant. Exposure to ozone can prove dangerous and fatal to anyone suffering from a respiratory infection.
Cost: 249 USD
Annual replacement parts: None
- It promises to kill 99% of all bacteria using UV light. It comes with a sliding drawer where the user can place the water chamber or mask for cleaning purposes.
- The device works at a fast pace and is able to deliver a sanitizing dose of light in less than 5 minutes.
- Using this device may lead to the creation of a bad odor inside the CPAP equipment. The smell is, however, not harmful to the user.
In the long run, the CPAP sanitizers and cleaners seem unlikely to offer any additional cleaning capabilities beyond what can be provided by using traditional soap and water. Also, there is no scientific proof to indicate that using these devices can assist in reducing the possibility of getting an infection.